Arctic Air Commercial Freezers & Refrigerators is transitioning to natural refrigerants propane (R290) and isobutane (R600a) to stay ahead of the HFC phase-down curve now being implemented in California and other states, Walter Broich, the company’s president, told this website at the NAFEM Show in Orlando, Fla. last month (February 7-9).

Arctic Air, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., makes refrigerators, freezers and bottle coolers for the foodservice sector. It is adopting hydrocarbons for many of its models – one of numerous OEMs promoting this transition at NAFEM.

The company previously used R404A in freezers and R134a in refrigerators. “As of now, we’ve transitioned to R290 for everything but reach-in freezers,” Broich said.

OEMs had been required to drop R404A and R134a in stand-alone cases by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Policy) program Rule 20, but the rule was cancelled following a U.S. Appeals Court decision in 2017. However, California adopted the rule, which went into effect for low-capacity medium-temperature cases January 1 of this year, and will go into effect for low-temperature cases like reach-in freezers in 2020.

Arctic Air has been making the switch gradually over the course of 2018 and early 2019, depending on the product category. Its bottle coolers for use in bars switched to propane over a year ago, for example.

What motivated Arctic Air to adopt propane? “We were preparing for new federal requirements, and then California moved first,” Broich said. “So we said, ‘let’s just do it’,” he added.

The company uses isobutane in some of its smaller under-counter freezers.

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